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2017 In Review: April – June


Kuala Lumpur: In the second of a four-part series looking back at the year gone by, the-AFC.com revisits the second quarter of 2017, which saw plenty of footballing action across the continent at both club and international levels.

April

While group stage action in the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup neared its end in April, the month also saw a momentous event play out in women's football.

On April 7, neighbours Korea Republic and DPR Korea faced off in an AFC Women's Asian Cup qualifier in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Stadium, with a capacity crowd of 42,500 in attendance to watch the first meeting between the women's sides in DPR Korea.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw as both teams vied for the lone ticket to the AFC Women's Asian Cup Jordan 2018. Sung Hyang-sim gave DPR Korea the lead at the stroke of half time, before Korea Republic equalised through Jang Sel-gi in the second half.

The result meant that both teams had a chance of going through to the Finals but eventually, it would be Korea Republic who grabbed top spot in the group, edging their rivals on goal difference after a 4-0 win over Uzbekistan on the final matchday.

Joining Korea Republic in confirming their qualification were the Philippines, who secured their ticket after Sara Castañeda's 82nd minute equaliser helped them to a 1-1 draw with Bahrain. 

The Philippines finished second in Group A but qualified nonetheless for their first Asian Cup since 2003 as toppers Jordan were assured of a place as the hosts.


May

In May, the inaugural AFC U-20 Futsal Championship kicked off in Bangkok, bringing together young talents from 21 countries. Islamic Republic of Iran lived up to their reputation as one of the leading nations in futsal by breezing through Group D, winning all their games and scoring 27 goals.

Team Melli then defeated Lebanon and hosts Thailand in the knockout stage before seeing off Iraq 2-0 in the final to lift the title. Iranian captain Touhid Lotfi picked up with the Most Valuable Player award while Uzbekistan's Akbar Usmonov took home the Top Scorer title after netting 13 times.

In the AFC Cup, reigning champions Air Force Club of Iraq needed a final day win over Bahrain's Al Hidd to confirm their spot in the zonal semi-final as Group B toppers. 

Bengaluru FC, the 2016 runners-up , also edged through to the knockout stage after captain Sunil Chhetri's free-kick gave them a 1-0 win over Maziya Sports & Recreation.

Over at the AFC Champions League, Urawa Red Diamonds staged a memorable comeback to knock out Jeju United in the Round of 16. 

Jeju had won the first leg 2-0 before Urawa came back strongly in the return leg at Saitama to level the scores. Ryota Moriwaki then netted in extra time to send the 2007 champions to the quarter-finals.


June

Iranian football fans were given further reason to cheer in June when their nation's fine year continued with a second successive qualification for the FIFA World Cup.

Carlos Queiroz's men became the third side to secure a spot at the Finals after hosts Russia and Brazil, following a 2-0 win over Uzbekistan at the Azadi Stadium.

Sardar Azmoun's 19th international goal broke the deadlock for Iran in the first half before Mehdi Taremi doubled their advantage just ahead of full time. The win saw Iran qualify for their fifth FIFA World Cup appearance with two games to spare and without conceding a single goal.